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Showing posts from October, 2013

Ghost Stories

What is a ghost but a disembodied thought form intruding on one's space, disturbing serenity and peace of mind. While the world is awash in spooky ghost sitings and tales of terror, the only ones I have ever met are the figments of my own imagination.

Ghosts stories arise from the recesses of creative brains, which love to imagine scenarios that don't have a substantive reality. Ghosts from the past are people, places and things that haunt our now, pulling us out of present awareness into disassociated realms of discontent or seductive illusions.

The stories we tell ourselves can either horrify or pacify. In either case, the guts of those tales are made of smoke and mirrors, with no objective reality despite all appearances.

The mind will always be the great inventor, spinning endless yarns. But better yet, the one who is watching the stories -- aware, awake, unattached to the version invented by ghostly thoughts -- is the real deal.

After this haunted night of the soul has waned …

The Highest and Greatest Good

If anyone has ever sat in the rooms, meaning Alcohol Anonymous, Alanon, or any of the other spinoffs for people with an itch they can't scratch, one of the key slogans is, "Let go and let God." Wise indeed.

For an old atheist-Buddhist like myself, entrusting the welfare of all that is feared and loved to Him doesn't quite work. It's like dropping a penny into a wishing well and hoping that good luck surely will follow.

However, transposing that philosophy into my own experiential reality, there is an equivalent phrase, "May all be for the highest and greatest good." Now that one works like a charm to quell the alarm bells and deliver a piece of serenity.

Often times we find ourselves in the whirling blender of people, places, and life events that stir up hopes, fears, or the millions of other emotions us humans dream up. And these thought-feelings don't feel good, even when the situation seems perfect, because change is the only thing guaranteed.

Will t…

Coffins and Cadillacs

In the spirit of "being green" a.k.a. environmentally friendly, the following thoughts have arisen.

A high end coffin has much in common with a Cadillac; plushly cushioned, wood grain polished to a high shine, and designed for superior smooth comfort. Brass trim and other niceties add that extra little something for the discerning customer. However, in the former scenario, the person is not privy to the luxury afforded his or her flesh and bones, while in the latter case, a live one perceives his ride as great good fortune.

Cadillac owners take pride in this brand that broadcasts affluence. But the carbon footprint of that car is like a triple D width size 13 man's shoe traversing a tightrope. What it takes from the environment is not commensurate with what it gives back.

Similarly, lavish coffins carried by a minimum of six great men also seem like overkill. Cutting down beautiful hardwood trees and using other resources for something that will be immediately buried or bu…

What Would the Buddha Do?

Sex, Lies & Spiritual Teachers

One of the most upsetting moments of young adulthood was my first foray into the world of gurus and the culture of "spiritual seekers."Most people engaged in a student-teacher relationship have expectations of their priests, rabbis, lamas, roshis, imams and gurus, who are all acknowledged as "holy men" by their flock (and in the worst cases proclaimed as such by themselves).

The quotation marks around both the student and the teacher have a logic. A person in search of enlightenment may also be in search of a father or mother, a family, a crutch, or a bevy of other motives other than pure evolution of consciousness, although that too is part of the cake batter.

The teacher, while usually trained for many years in a monastery, seminary or such, may also have landed up in his esteemed role based on more than a desire to serve God or fill-in-the-blanks. He may have been forced into that life because of poverty, family pressure, a need for isolation, fear of the work-a-d…

Elephants 'R' Us

We've probably all been to a zoo or circus and laid eyes on an elephant. Do spectators know where that giant creature originated, and how it feels to be a lumbering spectacle pelted by peanuts? Or how it was trained to stand on its hind legs, sit upright, lie down, or join a train of elephants strung together by their trunks like a daisey chain?

A complimentary phrase, "You have the memory of an elephant" clues us in to a sad fact. Most elephants were captured in the wild, separated from mother and tribe, and crated off to a foreign world where they were chained and punished into submission. Even if one is born in captivity, elephants are bought and sold, traded like Monopoly cards. And they remember that tearing of the emotional thread. 

The Che Guevaras of the elephant world occasionally rise up and throw off their trainers, using their trunks and feet instead of guns, but with much the same effect. Babies won't do that but the mature elephant, wising up, can suddenl…

Serving Life

The word Angola sends a fear vibration through my heart as I remember news of the atrocities wrought upon that African nation, first during the Portuguese occupation and later through civil war -- not to speak of the tortured souls who actually lived through decades of abject cruelty at the hands of multi-coloured persons.

Angola is also the nickname for the largest prison in the United States, a moniker decidedly not accidental. Housed in Louisiana, it is a maximum security prison where most inmates are lifers, passing time behind barbed wire and bars until death disperses their breath.

Thanks to a prison warden whose Christian beliefs incorporate some of Christ's real teachings, a hospice program was set up for inmates who don't drop dead instantaneously. Like us folks on "the outside," old age and sickness happen to lifers too.

Murderers, rapists and armed robbers are trained in hospice care, often tending to inmates with whom they spent decades in a their contained …

The Cure for Narcissism

Recently, a proud mother posted her precocious twenty-something son's blog on Facebook. His words were intelligent, reflective and heart-centered. She had worked diligently to raise such a thoughtful child and his kudos were well deserved.

What struck me was his feeling, rightly so, that too many people live in a cyber-sphere divorced from the wonders of the natural world and human contact (assuming human contact is a good thing these days). The fact that he was using the very tool he eschewed made me smile; escape is near impossible from this 21st century virtual ecosystem.

As a creature inhabiting this cyber environment, my commitment and challenge is to write a blog a day for a year: 79 posts already dispersed into the ethers, with 286 expected to arise. Undergoing this process has lead to some unexpected discoveries -- perhaps not as world shaking as Madame Curie's -- but interesting to me nonetheless.

Therapists and psychiatrists: if you have a patient who suffers from nar…

Father Sun, Mother Earth

Father Sun's rays shine diligently upon Mother Earth. This coy woman receives his glowing attention by turning continually, revealing different aspects of her body depending on the time of day.

But She can be moody and as children of this dynamic duo, we are always at their affect. If Mom decides to cover up one of her parts to hide from Dad, us kids will live under a gray cloak smothering us like an oppressive blanket that sweats rain, snow, or hail. Or, she can withhold that protective shield and allow the wrath of Dad to scorch us with firey heat.

This writer has a mind that absorbs the activities of her heavenly parents on a subconscious level, and she behaves like the unhappy child of divorced parents when Mom blocks Dad from seeing the kids or doesn't guard us from his ire.

So above, so below: children drink in the energies of their parents on a subtle and not so subtle level. Often they grow up as abusers, having been abused -- or loving, having been loved. The happy few n…

A New Heart for the Dick

Ex-VP Dick Cheney has a new heart. His old diseased one was twice the size of his good-as-gold new organ, which pumps like a champ.

After viewing the mangled discards in a slop bucket alongside an X-ray of the new and improved tight little organ, counter-intuition strikes again. "Bighearted" usually implies someone with great love. Alas, this similitude lives on in the world of metaphor only. In truth, Dick's repulsive  leftovers mimic his equally repulsive thought processes.

This man wielded power over the lives of millions. His duplicitous policies caused mayhem, death and destruction. At the very same time, he fought to live by undergoing every heart procedure known to mankind. He now enjoys a life of peace on his Wyoming ranch, delighting in his borrowed heart and granddaughter's antics as she barrel races her thoroughbred, a good ol' tradition of the American West.

When questioned as to whether his chronic and debilitating heart ailment effected his judgment as…

Calling On Angels

Statisticians claim that 80% of Americans believe in angels, while 50% believe in "creationism," which is the denial of evolution and the belief that God created the world exactly as it was in the past, present, and potential future. 

Being an angel lover myself, it is comforting to know that so many of my countrymen hold these light beings close to their hearts. Suffice it to say that when one sees a golden light being standing behind a troubled person and giving comfort, one goes beyond belief into the realm of experiential knowledge.
Mystical experiences aside, I am also a person of reason and find it truly alarming that half of the 316,882,000 inhabiting this nation survive on blind faith that flies in the face of all empirical observation and scientific evidence. If the sermons of fundamentalist preachers and the literal interpretations of holy books can pervert the intellect of half of the citizens of the United States, then what are the madrasah's of Pakistan doing …

Reality Check

I rarely see feature films that contain extreme physical or emotional violence because of the powerful effect of that medium. Sitting in a dark room, sound bouncing off the four walls, visuals larger than life, and people on all sides of me in reaction -- no thank you. Those skillfully crafted images plant seeds in my unconscious that sprout unease and fear long after the lights go up in the theater. It can take days of uneasy sleep before the crash boom bang fades away, especially if torture is part of the thrilling plot.

However, I will watch a documentary on almost any subject, with no hangover except thoughtfulness. In the last three days I have seen one on cancer patients in hospice; a family of three grown daughters having Christmas with the father that raped and beat them daily; and for the final touch, one about prostitutes in Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico who are more or less slaves although legally free.

My husband and adult children regularly ask me why I won't see a vi…

Slavery is Alive and Well, Sick

Slavery is not the horror of a savage past. An open secret keeps it a thriving business in India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria and "those other countries." And yes, here too in the USofA, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Your average run of the mill slave gets up at 6AM and works until midnight seven days a week; most probably a young person (starting at about age 6) that is beaten, underfed, unpaid, divorced from contact with family, and denied education. The odds of escaping that scenario are slim to none save an outsider with considerable legal clout taking notice. Even then, the lucky slave who gets free represents a tiny percentage of those who live hell daily.

One particular kind of human bondage is the sex trade, and in this category, the United States ranks number one in the world for the importation of underage girls. They come from all over: Eastern Europe, Thailand, the Philippines, Russia, Nepal and other places where American dollars are gol…

Cats & Dogs Reconcile

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http://www.pawbonito.com/compilation-of-cats-stealing-dogs-bed/ click on above link to watch the video

After two tortuous weeks of witnessing craziness on Capitol Hill, I would like to lighten up and pass along this eleven minute You Tube video, guaranteed to make the most intransigent curmudgeon chuckle.
But this little video is not mindless entertainment. Hang in until its conclusion, even if the idea of taking eleven minutes out of your busy life seems impossible -- because you will find a ray of hope amidst a sea of bad news stories about bad news human beings.
For those of you who fight like cats and dogs, notice the lessons these wonderful creatures have learned. Can we learn our own lessons as elegantly as our domesticated four-leggeds?

The $24,000,000,000 Debacle

If anyone thinks the Kardashians are big spenders, consider Uncle Sam. Apparently, he shells out $52,000 per second to prop Mother Liberty upright so that she doesn't keel over.

Try imagining this amount being dispersed in one dollar bills over the course of a year. Better yet, don't try. No previous observable phenomenon would prepare oneself for this visualization, not even if one were the drug lord of a banging cartel.

The fifteen day government shut down, caused by the intransigence of extremist right wing Congressman, cost no less than $24,000,000,000. This factoid is even more mind-boggling than a blizzard of dollar bills, in terms of spending power squandered.

Tea Party Republicans preferred throwing good money after bad because of "principles," which makes no sense whatsoever because they tossed a bloody fortune down the toilet in the name of saving money. The whole scene reminds me of a bad divorce, where one member of the couple is hell bent on destroyi…

What Would Jesus Say?

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Old age has not been kind to Jimmy Carter's face; red-rimmed, faded green eyes and skin minus its youthful elasticity have given his countenance a ghostly air. Yet, his wisdom shines forth from a beautiful mind unsullied by time.

Although no one would dare elevate him to the stature of a Jesus, he could be portrayed as a champion who challenges the temple money lenders, those anti-RobinHoods who rob the poor to pay the rich a.k.a. most Republicans and bottom-line corporate folk who have no trouble with a massively unbalanced upward cash flow into their coffers.

What would Jesus say?

If you don't want your tax dollars to help the poor -- then stop saying that you want a country based on Jewish* values.

*Jesus might not have been pleased that his followers invented Christianity and then had the nerve to designate him a Christian, postmortem.








Blind Man Falls Into Hole

Zen practitioners employ koans, which are questions designed to mystify the rational mind and evoke an utterly frustrating reaction so that one gives up the attempt to deduce a logical solution. In that 'not knowing,' the mind expands into heretofore unseen possibilities of connectivity (providing the student sticks with koan meditation and doesn't run out of the zendo screaming mad).

The most widely known koan amongst us Western savages, who try to understand ancient teachings by way of Japan, is, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

If one were a dog with super hearing, the answer could be, "A whoosh of air, " as that one hand claps against a wall of air molecules. But as we are not dogs, that explanation won't cut it with a stern Japanese Zen master, who will slice you to bits for this cop-out answer.

In the meantime, I recall an American-style koan which may be more simple for us spiritually challenged folks.

A ditch digger has been charged wit…

The Tarot Speaks

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No set formula or theme informs the content of this daily blog. The primary guideline is to allow thoughts to be born in the present moment -- a spontaneous arising of something that wishes to come forth. Brainstorms from the night before are not permitted, nor are "plans." Even when I want to violate my own parameters, by the time daylight sneaks up, previous ideas have evaporated along with dreams.
So the offering for today is a mini-tarot reading. The question asked was, "What do readers need to know today?"
A site on the internet provides free tarot readings; instead of a gypsy-type person shuffling cards and spreading them out before the seeker, the computer allows one to click on "shuffle," "cut the deck" and "select cards." Having used this site over the years with informative results, I reckon that the computer has been programmed just as well, if not better, than the mind of a tarot reader.
And this is what came up:

Situation: Thr…

Change We Can Disbelieve In

According to national surveys conducted by non-partisan groups, the radical right wing -- neofascist Christian white folks as well as a sprinkling of other ethnicities -- are not happy that we have a president of color, who is actually a true African American hybrid. Yes! In 2013! With the current population trending towards a dominance of people who are not lily-white, the former Silent Majority are fast becoming the Vocal Minority.

A thorn in the foot might not seem life-threatening, but that small sliver will cripple you to move freely and if left unattended, cause a pernicious infection. Likewise, through gerrymandering that was voted into law by a Republican Congress, these right wing nuts hold sway in districts that will always elect their own, despite overwhelming proof that they could very well take down the world economy.

The change that we believed in has turned into a clock with its hands spinning backwards -- not because Obama has been unable or unwilling to stop playing wit…

Unforgiven

In the past, have you ever taken an action that caused pain to other beings, human or otherwise? Or been on the receiving end of a behavior that was perceived as wrong or unfair? Have these thoughts tormented you like a ghost haunting a deserted mansion once filled with music, laughter and champagne?

Torture. Torment. Closely related states that love to hate.

Life's cruel joke is that we think it is the "other" who inflicts the quicksand of distress upon us, when it is none other than an ego-based version of ourselves.

An incredible lesson: the Dalai Lama met with a highly esteemed Tibetan lama who had been imprisoned and tortured by the Chinese for over two decades, for no reason other than the fact that he was a Buddhist monk. His Holiness asked the monk what was entailed in the most challenging aspect of his detention, thinking that the answer would contain details of the horrendous mutilations he had endured. Instead, the monk replied, "My greatest fear was that I …

Google Statz

The website where this blog lives is served up gratis of Google. An interesting and unexpected perk is called "stats," a feature available only for the Lord of the Blog.
"Stats" tells its Lord how many visitors have clicked on the blog and hopefully found something redeeming to read. Better yet, it reports where on the planet the bloggee has clicked in.
In the spirit of transparency, here's the scoop since inaugurating the blog on August 16, 2013.
Thanks and hello, world citizens!
Stats up to Oct. 6, 2013 United States 3432 France 212 United Kingdom 49 Russia 27 Canada 24 China 21 Germany 21 Indonesia 21 Australia 18 Serbia 11
Stats only for the week of Oct. 6-13th, 2013
United States 326 United Kingdom 20 France 13

A+ Hollywood

Yesterday I dropped into an alternate universe: the set of a Hollywood movie that was being filmed by an A plus filmmaker. As any and all photography was prohibited - and my iPhone charge was plummeting like the Congress's popularity ratings - there was no way to digitally immortalize this unique window into a highly developed art form.

OK, so the director and the actors were mesmerizing, but equally fascinating was what went on behind the scenes. The beehive of people with electronic contraptions strapped to every body part to communicate effortlessly across sound stages, the graceful choreography of multi-pronged logistical maneuvers, and last but not least, the food. Class acts require class menus and abundance was an understatement. Fish - chicken - sushi - roast beef - tofu, veggies of all kinds, not to speak of the snack table on the set; always replenished to prop up lagging blood sugar (or greed in my case) for the crew, with an array of food that surpasses the contents of …

Cutting Through the Gordian Knot

If all the currentills of the world were printed on pieces of computer paper in 1 pt. typeface, they would probably decorate earth's girth many times around, like a giant streamer. As beings with a limited amount of time on this earth, it is impossible for any one person to absorb the oceanic depth and breadth of information available through cyberspace, literature, newspapers, gossip and other unearthly mediums.

Myth has it that Alexander the Great cut through the Gordian Knot with one swift blow of his mighty sword. Thus following his example, rather than trying to untangle the near infinite causes and conditions contributing to the suffering of the many, I prefer to keep it simple and apply one theory to all woes of the world...self-interest.

With the exception of a few tribes here and there, most nations throughout the millennia have expanded incessantly to fulfill ever growing appetites and desires, unfettered by compassion or concern for the weak or the vulnerable. Like the an…

The Unburied Past

Unless one has been meditating in a cave in the Himalayas for the past sixty years - or is a senior tech support person at Apple  -  or is coming of age in the current American school system where only 20% of high school students know what Lincoln stood for - MOST of us know of the past horrors of racism in the American South, which rivaled South African apartheid. (One must know a smidge about world history to understand this last reference.)

Images of police dogs and their handlers attacking civil rights marchers have been abundantly aired since the activism of the 1960s. But there is nothing like an in depth, personal account of that era to make one's heart hurt, literally.

Last night, I was trying to navigate my TV remote to select a comedy on Netflix. As usual, it disobeyed my commands, leaving only one easy option to select: a documentary about a person of color in Greensville, Mississippi back in 1952. Technological ineptitude accepted; a black and white image rolled onto my …

What the Mystics Knew All Along

Yesterday the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to two eminent physicists. Never mind that three others had published the same findings beginning in 1964 but got short shrift due to Swedish "rules" - the way of the world.

I quote the New York Times below out of sheer malaise; my espresso machine broke this morning and black tea isn't cutting it.

"According to the award-winning scientific model called the Higgs field, the universe brims with energy that acts like a cosmic molasses, imbuing the particles that move through it with mass, the way a bill moving through Congress attracts riders and amendments, becoming more and more ponderous and controversial...without the Higgs field, all elementary particles would be massless (sic) and would zip around at the speed of light. There would be no atoms and no us... this invisible ocean of energy suffusing space is responsible for the mass and diversity of the universe, a crowning recognition for the scientists who came…